Friday, December 4, 2020

Implementation of public development projects haunts ministries

Financial constraints are no longer the cause of concern over the unfinished or the development projects still to be started. Of almost all the ministries that revealed their implementation progress to date, capacity constraints seem to be gaining an upper hand.

“My ministry was allocated the sum of P125 017 000 for the 2007/2008 financial year and, to date, P10 420 351 (8%) has been spent,” said Youth, Sport and Culture minister Moeng Pheto. “Most of this amount was spent in completing design work for some of the projects. The expenditure for the projects is minimal to date due to a number of factors”.

He continued, “(There was) late completion of designs for some projects which were to be completed in September 2007, but were only finished in November 2007 by the department of Building and Engineering Services (DBES) which we are told operates at 50% capacity. This led to considerable delays in commencement of construction to February 2008. Capacity constraints at DBES leading to delays in commencement of design work for some projects.”

The minister added that Ghantsi Stadium, Mahalapye Multi-purpose Youth Centre and Galleries and the reception at the National Museum are some of the projects delayed due to capacity problems at DBES.

Standing in for Local Government minister, Education assistant minister Peter Siele told parliament that due to “capacity constraints, local authorities in general have been struggling to spend their 2007/08 budget.”

However, he said, to address the problem a project implementation unit has been established within the ministry to fast track project implementation.
Siele said the unit would entail, among others, contracting out supervision and management of project implementation to the private sector.

He said he was confident the recent employment of 28 engineers at local authorities and 9 engineers at the ministry headquarters would enhance capacity in project implementation. Out of the P55 310 629 2007/08 financial year development budget allocated to Ghantsi council, only P4 135 691,92 was spent as at 31st October 2007 while Jwaneng spent 929 307,90 out of 16 707 674,62 during the same period.

Regrettably, owing to implementation capacity constraints experienced by the education ministry during the 2006/07 financial year, said Education assistant Minister, Maggie Mbaakanyi, the designs of community junior secondary schools for Ghantsi, Francistown, Maun and Kweneng West were not carried out, resulting in no expenditure against 12 million pula approved by parliament for 2006/2007.

She was, however optimistic the ministry would speed up implementation of projects since the ministry had increased personnel in the new department of technical services. She attributed the absence of physical construction progress regarding the above schools to tenders for design consultancy services for both architectural and civil and structural engineering works which are adjudicated by PPADB.

For his part, the minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Phandu Skelemani, reiterated that the departments of the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Botswana Police Service, DPSM and the BDF had low expenditures mainly due to the problems of capacity at BEBS.

Defending his ministry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mompati Merafhe, refuted a question that suggested that the ministry had only spent 10% from the development expenditure account, adding that “according to development expenditure records held by my ministry, 43,7 percent of the ministry’s 2007/08 development expenditure account had been spent as at 31st October 2007, as opposed to 10 percent referred to by the Honourable MP.”

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